16 July 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: F is for Fulford

Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

Right Now Would Be a Good Time to Cut My Throat
Paul Fulford
Richmond Hill, ON: Pocket, [1972]

The debut novel by Paul Fulford – commonly, "Paul A. Fulford" – about whom I know next to nothing. True, the book's author bio consumes the back cover, but can it be trusted?

Fulford is described as a magazine editor without identifying the publication. He's said to have written magazine articles, but I've yet to find one. Brochures? Speeches? Haven't most of us written these at one time or another?

Fulford is a subject of further research, which is not to say it hasn't begun. I've managed to track down a copy of Should a Scotsman Take Off His Kilt When He Meets a Lady?, published in 1969 by Young & McCarthy.

It was the publisher's only book.

I've also found seven letters Fulford wrote to the Globe & Mail, the earliest (26 March 1965) concerning a crosswalk accident that involved Toronto's Chief of Police. Others focus on problems with parking at the Canadian National Exhibition, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin's 1971 Ottawa visit, the Oak Island Mystery, and humorist and columnist Richard Needham (whom Fulford criticizes as unfunny and lazy). The last, published in 6 January 1973, deals with dogs:

Never mind.

Given Fulford's association with Pocket Books, an American mass market branch plant, this letter published on 6 August 1971, is by far the most interesting:

As far as I've been able to determine, Fulford wrote just one paid piece for the Globe & Mail, "Can Penguins Show How To Solve the Generation Gap" (16 March 1971), an op-ed in which he's described as "a supply teacher at Forest Hill Junior High."

It's every bit as funny as Needham.

Barman, labourer, teacher, farmhand, I don't doubt that Fulford had been them all. Initially, I was dismissive about the claim that written of movie scripts, "Unproduced," I'd thought, until I came across a "Paul Fulford" as one of four screenwriters credited in the 1971 Canadian prison drama "I'm Going to Get You... Elliott Boy" (aka Caged Men Plus One Woman).

"Featuring today's bright young stars Ross Stephenson and Maureen McGill," according to the trailer, "this story was torn from today's headlines and actually filmed inside the walls of a modern and active penitentiary." "It seems a rip-off of John Herbert's 1967 play Fortune and Men's Eyes, which happened to have been released as a feature film in the very same month.

I wonder what happened to bright young stars Ross Stephenson and Maureen McGill, just as I wonder what became of Paul A. Fulford. As far as I can tell, he published only one more book, Who's Got the Bastard Pope [sic] (Markham, ON: PaperJacks, 1978). Surprisingly uncommon, I've been looking for it for years, but this small image spotted online is the closest I've got:

As for Fulford being married to a writer named Dorothy Parker... Well, you can't make that stuff up.

09 July 2018

Red Set: The History of Gang of Four is Launched!

I'm honoured to have been invited to interview author Jim Dooley at the Canadian launch of Red Set: A History of Gang of Four, published by Repeater Books.

Jim's an old friend.

The band is an old favourite.

Because I'm old, I was around to take some of the photos in the book.

It'll all go down in the nation's capital:
Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar
1073 Bank Street
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Ottawa friends and readers, please come by.
No weak men in the books at home!
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05 July 2018

The Great Canadian Lesbian Pulp Novel?

Sadly, no; but I think my expectation was justified. See if you don't agree. Here's the beginning of my review, which was posted yesterday on the Canadian Notes& Queries website:

Strange Desires [?]
Alan Malston [?]
Toronto: News Stand Library. 1949
160 pages
The title of this novel is either Strange Desires or Strange Desire. It doesn't matter which because "Strange" is key. Anyone familiar with post-war paperbacks will recognize the word as code for "lesbian" fiction. Delicate lingerie, gentle caresses, and tender kisses will feature. An insecure, vulnerable, and somewhat unstable young woman (more often than not a blonde) will likely be seduced by a confident, slightly older woman (usually brunette). The young woman will become increasingly insecure, vulnerable, and unstable as a result, until finding safe harbour in the arms of a man. The slightly older brunette may or may not commit suicide. 
Those unfamiliar with that code word in 1949 would’ve been aided by the cover pitch: “WHAT MAN COULD SATISFY HER — STRANGE DESIRES.” But for the truly dim-witted, everything is laid out in the back cover copy: 
Adele was sophisticated, spoiled and reckless, and her inspired strip dance performed with a snake as partner set men's blood pounding and women's tongues to wagging. Her inseparable female companion seemingly did not quench Adele's desire for the conquest of men and for the one man in particular who seemed capable of resisting every trick and every charm.
Am I right or am I right?

Before wasting good money on tracking down a copy, you'll want to read the rest of the review:
Weird, But Not Really Strange
Note: Not to be confused with...

Strange Desire
Wayne Wallace
Hollywood: Brandon House, 1965
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01 July 2018

Laura Salverson's 'For Canada' for Canada Day

A poem – and prayer – by Laura Salverson, from Wayside Gleams, her only collection of verse, published in 1925 by McClelland & Stewart.

For Canada 
               Grant us, O Lord, within the coming year.
               Some vision of our noble destiny... 
*  *  *  * 
               Give unto us the strength to face anew
               Adversity and sorrows... or again
               Good fortune, with that valiant humbleness
               Which ever marks a depth of inward grace;
               Grant us, we pray, sincere, courageous hearts.
               Wide sympathies, with minds that seek to see
               In giving joy, and pride in honest toil,
               In beauty, truth, and good for all mankind;
               For every race, for every land, we pray;
               Lift them, O God, from out enthralling thought
               And prejudice, that they, directing, find
               Thy presence manifest on land and sea.
               But last, O Lord, for this is our Canada
               We crave Thy blessing and eternal aid;
               Keep her fair soul unflinching, aye, and true
               That she, among the nations, may arise.
               Made string with the greatness from the fount within,
               Imbued with love that knows not any death,
               This gracious land, so young, so little tried.
               O'er-shadow her with Thy own righteousness.
               That she may stand a New Jerusalem
               Where man, by giving much, may gather more;
               Where thy same speech and creed of kindliness
               At last take root to flourish far and wide,
               Till thereon in very truth become
               The citadel of justice on earth.  
*  *  *  * 
               Grant us, O Lord, within the coming year,
               The vision of our final destiny —
               A nation worthy of her ancient dead —
               A fabric perfected from deathless dreams.
In 2014, I bought this first and only edition of Wayside Gleams for one dollar. The dust jacket features an advert for eight other McClelland & Stewart books.

I haven't read one.

How 'bout you?

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25 June 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: E is for Eaton

Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

Memory's Wall
Flora McCrae Eaton
Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1956
213 pages

The Bombardier Guide to Canadian Authors places Flora McCrae Eaton as second only to Malcolm Frye. Both writers transcend the boundaries of our literature: Frye rates 6½ out of a possible five skidoos, while Lady Eaton is an even six. According to the Guide, Morley Callaghan is a third the writer she is, and yet I've never read Lady Eaton's work.

Memory's Wall was Flora McCrae Eaton's second and last book. The first, Rippling Rivers: My Diary of a Camping Holiday, was published in 1920 by the T. Eaton Company, the department store headed by husband Sir John Craig Eaton. That just two books propelled her to such heights in the Bombardier Guide speaks to her talent.

Before moving to St Marys, Ontario, our home these past ten years, I'd never seen a copy of Memory's Wall. They're not at all uncommon in this small town. My copy, purchased four blocks down the street, set me back a dollar.

It's signed.

The Eatons were once prominent in St Marys; Lady Eaton's father-in law, Timothy, had a store on Queen Street, as did his brother Robert. They stand with celebrated violinist Nora Clench (Lady Streeton) and Arthur Meighen as the town's most famous residents. The latter, our ninth prime minister, provided a forward to Memory's Wall.

It begins: "This book is truly a Canadian product." 

That's as far as I've made it.

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24 June 2018

Root Beer for a Sober Fête de la St-Jean Baptiste

The visage of Louis-Joseph-Paul-Napoléon Bruchési, Italian-Canadian Archbishop of Montreal, dominates the first page of this 1898 Souvenir de la fête de la St-Jean Baptiste, but the most prominent spot belongs to the English firm of Newball & Mason, which placed this ad at the very top of the front cover:

I'd long been aware that root beer was once promoted by teetotals – Hires sold it as the "temperance drink for temperance people" – but had never seen the beverage described as the "Biere de Temperance."

Don't like root beer? Newball & Mason had other drinks to lure one away from that ol' demon alcohol: botanic beer, hop ale, ginger beer, ginger ale, horehound beer, and Devonshire Cider were just six.

Looking through the many ads in the Souvenir, I see no other teetotals.

Newball & Mason's address – 943 St-Laurent – was razed in the 'seventies to make way from the Ville-Marie Expressway. I'm betting the Nottingham, Angleterre firm had long since vacated the building.

Bon fête!

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